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History and environment

  • The Origins

    The evidence of a human settlement is found from as early as the Neolithic period (2500 BC), at the site of the Fountains Salées which was later built upon by the Gallo-Romans and used as a spa.

    In 782, the first monastery was  founded in the Valley of Saint Père, by Girard of Roussillon, powerful Captain and  baron. It was destroyed by the Normans some years later, and rebuilt on the Hill, later referred to as “la Colline éternelle”,


  • Power struggles under the guise of faith

    In the 12th century, the appearance of the relics of Mary Magdalene made Vézelay one of the most revered places in Christianity and, in 1146, St Bernard had just advocated the second crusade.

    Rebuilt after the great fire of 1120, the monastery had around 800 monks. However, there were many conflicts between the Abbots and residents who were exasperated by the raised taxes to be paid for the construction of the Abbey.


  • Declining years

    As early as the middle of the 13th century, the decline began. The hundred years of war and the continuing struggles between Duke of Nevers, King of France and Duke of Burgundy were continuing.

    In the 16th century, as a result of  the religious wars, the monastery and many villages in the surrounding area were looted.

  • Rescue and revival

    In 1840 at the request of Mérimée, Viollet-le-Duc, a young architect of 27 years, saved the forgotten abbey which was now completely in ruins. He undertook its restoration with boldness and skill. It took 19 years of hard work to restore the church back to the former glory of the original building.

    The church and the village of Vézelay have now been  classified a world heritage site by the U.N.E.S.C.O. for more than 40 years.

  • Landscape authenticity and preservation

    Vézelay and its surroundings: an alliance between beauty, diversity and authenticity with a landscape exceptionally preserved to the sweet vallonement and sublime views over the valley of the Cure or Yonne and ... the Morvan.

  • The Morvan Park

    A succession of wooded peaks, steep valleys, rivers and lakes, the Morvan Regional Nature Park is home to unspoiled nature that reveals its attractions along the trails. It's the land of forests, lakes and whitewater.

    Land of diversity, with singing rivers and deep forests appreciated by walkers, it's a great adventure ground for hiking, mountain biking, climbing, horseback riding, canoeing, rafting, etc., with family or friends.

    For more than forty years, women and men have protected and valorized this enchanting terroir to discover absolutely.

  • The Operation "Grand Site de France"

    Vézelay and the surrounding villages constitute a remarkable territory for its landscape, natural and architectural qualities. Even so, the exceptional character of the Vézelay site must be recognized and preserved over time.

    Also the Community of Municipalities Avallon - Vézelay - Morvan is committed to a Grand Site approach. This label is currently awarded by the Ministry of the Environment to a dozen tourist sites respecting the principles of sustainable development such as Mont Saint-Michel, Pont du Gard, Bibracte ...

    It's not only a question of restoring the heritage and landscape qualities that make the site of Vézelay famous but also of developing a project that will ensure its sustainability and enhance the site in all its diversity.